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Osho Revival goes beyond Nepal

(This edited article contains a sympathethic account of the work of the Nepalese in spreading Osho's vision outside their small country, previously published in full at http://news.in.msn.com)

Almost two decades after he died, Osho aka Bhagwan Rajneesh has risen, phoenix-like, from his ashes in Nepal, a country he visited just once. He has been resurrected on this 18th death anniversary by loyal followers in Nepal.

Swami Anand Arun, a 63-year-old engineer who first saw Osho in Patna while studying in the engineering college there, and was struck by Osho's "physical grace" and "forceful speech", began spreading Osho's message in Nepal in 1970, opening a meditation centre at his own residence.

Today, the Osho Tapoban commune in Nepal is spreading his word in Russia and the Central Asian states and has plans to establish communes in Germany, France and Britain. "Things were very hard in the 1970s," Arun reminisces. "I had to give up my government job since they didn't like me wearing orange robes and beads. It was the era of the panchayat (when political parties were banned and the king reigned supreme) and I was arrested and jailed for selling Osho's books because they had not been censored."

Today, there are five communes in Nepal and 60 centres with almost 45,000 initiated disciples. Osho Tapoban also runs a centre for visitors that can accommodate 150 people, a coffee shop, a magazine and an online newsletter. It has satellite links and broadcasts special events - like the commemoration of Osho's death anniversary on Saturday - live on the Internet.

To integrate closely with society, it has started a commune marriage system where people who are against the dowry practice and ostentation can tie the knot. Anand also conducts stress and lifestyle management courses for corporates and others, his clients including the Nepal Police and the state-run Nepal Telecom.

After fully establishing Osho in Nepal, two years ago Arun started eyeing Europe.

Now there are 10 centres in Russia with two communes in the pipeline despite the Russian government's suspicion of anything other than orthodox Christianity. There are also centres in Belarus, Ukraine and Estonia. Meditation courses have been started in England. This year, Anand hopes to open Osho centres in France and Germany as well.